Revisiting ‘In the Heat of a Meltdown’


Now that the kids are in school full time, we may really notice how they begin to manage their continuing gross motor skills, emotional management, and budding friendships with classmates.

Have the kids in the neighborhood been riding bikes? Or have the children expressed an interest in some of the formal team sports like soccer or softball or baseball? These types of activities help a child to fine-tune their ever-increasing gross motor skills. Parents can often be heard encouraging children to “get outside and play.” The outdoor environment is full of opportunities for children to learn tasks for growth and development. 

As children’s cognition and language development are increasing, we may need to begin to offer more explanations or more “why” answers – rather than simply giving a simple yes or no to requests. Helping children learn that our decisions are based on keeping them safe all while providing realistic expectations for their behavior may be a conversation we must have. School-agers are beginning to understand others’ perspectives and are learning to listen to other people’s ideas and suggestions.

Kids in school are developing more memory strategies; Learning to read and then reading to learn. In fact, they may be focused on MASTERY of school and extra-curricular activities.

As parents we may have to be ready to adjust to the different range of emotions that may be apparent during this time frame. We may need to be ready to keep the lines of communication open, so that when the emotion doesn’t seem to match the situation, we are ready to explore WHY….and brainstorm potential solutions or strategies for emotional support.

A few tips for support during these school-age years include:

  • Show affection for your child and recognize their efforts and accomplishments.
  • Ask about school with questions like “tell me about your school day”. “Tell me about your friends”.
  • Do fun things together as a family, such as playing games, reading, hiking outdoors and going to events together.
  • Talk with your child about using money wisely.
  • Praise your child for good behavior.
  • Support your child in taking on new challenges.
  • Encourage your child to solve problems. Brainstorm possible solutions together. 
  • Talk with your child about their homework and discuss any help your child may need or request.

The school years are a time of budding independence. Be sure to show your parental support for that growing independence all while providing the love and limits needed for optimal growth and development.

Barb Dunn Swanson

Barb Dunn Swanson

With two earned degrees from Iowa State University, Barb is a Human Sciences Specialist utilizing her experience working alongside communities to develop strong youth and families! With humor and compassion, she enjoys teaching, listening and learning to learn!

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